[This was originally presented at the American Folklore Society Annual Meeting in 2019 in conjunction with what I wrote about Het Koto Museum in Suriname. Mr. Francis died in 2020 and the original museum building was damaged by Hurricane Ida, but they gained a new home in July 2022. However, I’ve kept the piece in present tense as I wrote it at the time.]
For newcomers to Baltimore or the neighborhood of Hampden, the lights on 34th Street feel like a tradition. And by now, they kind of are. I wrote an article for Shore Monthly about the "Spectacle on 34th Street," and found myself surprised that the street-wide decorations only started in 1991. But in the years since, the street has become Baltimore's place to be over the holidays.
Read the piece via Shore Monthly.
In 1954, a make-up artist named Milicent Patrick drew the costume for an iconic monster. She never received credit, and may have even quit the industry after her boss, Bud Westmore, gave her a hard time about taking credit for the Creature from the Black Lagoon's creation. She really was the beauty behind the beast.
To read more about Milicent Patrick and the history of the Creature from the Black Lagoon films, check out Tom Weaver's The Creature Chronicles.
Check out my new piece on OZY about El Hadj Sidikida Diabate, his sons, and the start of Guinean National Orchestras in West Africa.
On January 15, 1959, Sidikiba put together the first Guinean national orchestra, the Syli National Orchestra. The played at international festivals, including this one in 1969.
Check out more music and stories of the Guinean orchestras here on the blog.
Come in, the stacks are open.
Away from prying eyes, damaging light, and pilfering hands, the most special collections are kept in closed stacks. You need an appointment to view the objects, letters, and books that open a door to the past.